Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dragonfly: Blue-eyed Darner

I took these pics of this brilliant colored member of the dragonfly family, aptly named Blue-eyed Darner, as flew from one end of a small wetland to the other end and then back. Like others of it's kind, it spends a lot of time patrolling it's territory and chasing interlopers away. My experience with this species is the same as noted on MonterayBay.com: "Perched darners are rarely observed. . . ." and "Dragonflies are difficult to photograph in flight." Indeed--just as soon as one starts to hover in one place and I put my camera up to my eye, it darts off. Since they often are flying in and out of shadows, then sun, camera settings have to be reset. And since they are moving, the focus has to be continually focused (I find that automatic focus is worthless with moving dragonflies as well as moving birds). I find that in super close-up views this species has a funny face--the large blue ovals are indeed it's blue eyes and it looks like it has a dark little button nose and like it's smiling. Though these pics lose focus when enlarged by double-clicking on them, the face is seen fairly well by double-clicking the top pic. SeEtta
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Barn Swallow fledgling: Make my day

This recently fledged Barn Swallow just looks like it's saying "being of the nest isn't all it's cranked up to be so just go ahead and make my day."

Paxa, the picky California Condor

I reported in an earlier post on efforts to save California Condors in the rescue program from the wildfires last month. I just saw this information about the interesting personalities of some of the captive condors including the one in this pic, Paxa. He is a male condor and is productive breeder. But he has an interesting habits as he is very particular about his nesting space. Paxa even engages in his own version of interior decorating by adding various items to his nesting area including a calf leg (I suspect that was a left-over meal), a rabbit spine (also left over from a meal), and some large primary feathers. It is reported that when Paxa is preparing his nest room for the upcoming breeding season that he spends hours getting everything just right. You can read more about the condors in the Oregon Zoo Conservation program here. SeEtta
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Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Cicada killer" wasp with a "dog day" cicada in it's grasp

Even if you really don't like insects, I think that the ferocious look of this member of the wasp family is compelling. I can really see this used as some monster in a sci-fi flick. I saw this very interesting insect flying with a cicada in it's grasp and landing on the hood of my car in some stormy winds at Lake Cheraw. Aptly named "Cicada killer" as that is what they do, not to feed themselves but to feed their young (they feed on sap and nectar).
"Cicadas are captured, paralyzed by a sting and used for food to rear their young. After stinging a large cicada, the female wasp drags it up a tree, straddles it and takes off toward the burrow, partly gliding. When trees are not available, the cicada (prey) is dragged to the burrow on the ground." (Ohio State Univ extension factsheet). Due to a storm in the area, the winds were blowing hard and this wasp had to fight hard to keep from being blown away, but it clung tightly to the cicada, a "dog day" cicada (Tibecen species). Both the cicada and the wasp are about the same size so this was a real struggle for the wasp (and I think it lost a few legs in the windshield wiper well on my car).This cicada with it's greenish legs and wings, and big white eyes, could also star in a sci-fi movie. Be sure to double-click on each pic for super up-close and personal with these insects. SeEtta
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